Unlike the other one…


I’m writing this at about mid-morning; on an iPad.  

I was awoken by the iPad alarm, switching on the Today Programme.  I looked across the newspapers, electronically.  I’ve booked some tickets on the iPhone.  

Spoke to someone in Croatia and in the middle of the conversation took a photograph of a document and emailed it to them.

I’ve done a bit on a local radio station using voice-over-internet; crystal clear line from my iPhone. 

Now, I’m listening to the wireless on the iPhone through the BlueTooth speaker; concert hall quality.  Later, I’ll be at a restaurant, booked using the phone.  

I’ve done email stuff, the SoMe and spoken to the lawyers on FaceTime.

Later; a conference call, using the phone’s call-merge.  Tonight, I’ll probably come home in a cab, summoned via an App on the iPhone.

I doubt my day will be any different to yours but it’s not until you think about it, you realise the extent of our reliance on phone technologies and how smart, smart-phones really are.

Ubiquitous technology, everywhere except where it should be… you know what I mean.  I’ve said it before and I guess I’ll be saying it again, we simply cannot keep ignoring the phone in our pocket and it’s potential to change healthcare…

There’s an unsung report, just out. ‘Growing the Artificial Intelligence Industry in the UK’; sponsored by the Biz and Culture Secretary.

It takes a national look; points out we have large volumes of data, lots of expertise, a community of super-clever bobble-hats and apparently we are very good at artificial intelligence.

The NHS gets a mention…

Matteo Berluchhi, runs a company, building AI systems designed to give everyone, in the world, the best possible access to healthcare… wait for it, for free.

He says;

‘We have tried to approach the NHS to see if there was a way to access some of their data but we have struggled to even find the right person to talk to…’


You’ll be pleased to know I’ve just read a real hardback book.  ‘Origin‘, by Dan Brown.  Don’t ask… crackpot or prophet?  However, the story is predicated on AI and data crunching.  Without too much of a stretch I can see it is doable, conceivable and in a future… defined in years not decades.

However, don’t even think about the NHS benefiting from big-data-crunching.  Ask the Royal Free about DeepMind.

Imagine the possibilities of combining data from health, supermarkets, transport, local authorities, the leisure industry, benefits agency.  Life and lifestyle patterning, to understand;

  • What makes people get sick, 
  • what fixes them up, 
  • what did it cost, 
  • do we want to do it again
  • … and how could we have stopped it in the first-place.

Risk management and forecasting suddenly become serious business.  Public Health renaissance.

None of this can happen until we are able reassure Roy Lilley of the fact that when he was ten years old he had a verruca and the news won’t end up on the front page of the Daily Tell-Tail.  

Or, someone had a termination, is HIV+ and yes, I get the issues.

We have to deal with the business of confidentiality and consent.  Urgently.  

Reducing the size of a Bounty Bar in vending machines is important but not as important as increasing the use of the treasure trove of data locked up in the system.   The Data Protection Act; ‘data can be used for the purposes for which it is collected’, we must sort out ‘purpose’.  

Dame Fiona Caldicott has added complexity to confusion.  When the excellent Healthy Liverpool scheme started, to get the show on the road, they had to enter into 3,000 data sharing agreements.

Somehow or other we have to arrive at standardised, repeatable terms for data sharing across sectors.  The report talks of ‘Data Trusts’; trusted frameworks and agreements, ensuring exchanges are secure and mutually beneficial.  

Good luck with that…  

DT’s mission; provide the framework to define the data and data stream, broker the uses and intended use, agree mechanisms for transfer and storage and determine the conditions for realising the commercial value…

Yes, commercial value.  I thought that would get your attention.  Data is the new oil, it’s worth a fortune and the NHS is ExxonMobil.

This report, runs to about 70 pages, don’t worry, with a good executive summary.  So, don’t despair, it’s interesting, thoughtful and realistic.

It is a must read… unlike the other one.